Paul Nicholls believes Clan Des Obeaux will improve for his run in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday.
Part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, the seven-year-old announced himself on the big stage when winning the King George VI Chase at Kempton last time out and has the Gold Cup in his sights.
Nicholls feels it is a big ask for a horse to go straight from Kempton to Cheltenham, and as the Newbury Grade Two worked well as a stepping stone for such luminaries as Kauto Star and Denman, he is happy to take him to Berkshire.
And while he admits he would rather have to not face the current Gold Cup holder Native River, Nicholls cited a lack of options forced his hand.
“He schooled this morning and jumped well, I’m looking forward to running him,” said the Ditcheat handler on Tuesday.
“I didn’t really want to get into a scrap with Native River, but there are not many options for him.
“We’ve always done well running at Newbury with Denman and Kauto, then going on to the Gold Cup. I think it’s hard for a horse to run at Kempton then go to the Gold Cup and expect them to run at their very best.”
He went on: “I think a prep run when they are going to improve will do him good. We’ve worked him away, but I’ve not been hard on him and he will improve for Saturday until the Gold Cup.
“You don’t want them at their best now, but fit enough to do themselves justice.
“He is a King George winner and they win Gold Cups. He is a progressive young horse.
“He was always going to be a better horse this season. Last season we had a splint with him and he ran well at Aintree to be third and I thought with improvement this season he will be right up there at the top.
“His improvement from Haydock to Kempton was enormous and Harry (Cobden) had a great feel off him at Haydock as he said straight away he would ride him in the King George.
“He went there travelled well and jumped well. He jumped two out with his ears pricked and won very nicely.
“One thing he doesn’t do is a whole heap in front. In the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup last year he got to the front and half pulled himself up and got beat.”